Sunday, March 17, 2013

Seed Packages-Good Information to Know

I love old seed boxes that were found in old country store counters and each seed company would provide a box to display their seeds.  The graphics are so beautiful.  Seed packets contain so much information, I thought it worth a discussion from Windmill Farm today.  Although I do purchase most of my seeds from several wholesale places, the information provided on most seed packages that you find in hardware stores or nurseries are worth my time, and your time to read.  Growing produce is constantly changing as science understands more about plants that can help growers to yield the best flower or vegetable or fruit.  There is a great interest by the public about "hybrid" seeds and many groups have sprung up all over the place where they meet, discuss and exchange seeds. I applaud these groups, but for me as a seller of my produce, I have to stick to my reputable organic seed companies and purchase new seeds each year so I know and can be guaranteed a vegetable product from the seeds I purchase.
(H1 is printed in middle)
     I would like to share some of my knowledge about what may be contained on a routine seed package that could help a new gardener or veteran gardener, before the package gets ripped open and the seed put in the ground.  Some terms you may see printed on packages or have heard:

OP – Open Pollinated. This means the plant is a pollinator, will give you seeds next year. Op is what you are looking for if you are a seed saver.
H1 – H1 Hybrid, or, Hybrid 1.
H2, T1 More listings describing Hybrids.
Hybrid and Non Hybrid

In the garden, a hybrid is a plant that has recently been cross pollinated by two or more other strains or varieties. A hybrid plant will yield seeds that can grow but those seeds can grow to be a mix of any and all of the varieties that have been crossed into the mother plant. This makes seed saving of hybrids non-reliable and a less secure method of seed saving.
A non-hybrid, also know as “Open Pollinated” (OP), is a determined strain that has been established for years and that repeatedly continues to give us seeds that will be that same (slightly evolved) variety of plant.
Heirloom : The term heirloom in general refers to things that are older than 50 years in age. As such in the garden, the category of heirloom refers to the variety of seeds that are older than 50 years; a category that encompasses seed varieties that have been around a very long time.
Genetically Modified (GM) : The process of genetically modifying a plant starts by removing some DNA or genetic material from one plant, then that DNA is mixed with a virus that has the ability to penetrate the genetic cells of another plant while carrying the new genetic material. This virus DNA mixture is then inserted into the new plants using something similar to an air gun. The seeds of the new plant are considered genetically modified seeds.

It is not always listed on pack whether a plant variety is a hybrid or an open pollinated non-hybrid. Other ways to find out more about a variety is to look it up online or in reference books. For smartphone users or anyone else who has a handy bar code scanner hanging around you can scan the barcodes on most seed packs and get a link to the product information online:)
Someplace on the package the year in which the seeds should be sowed is given and for best results, don't purchase seeds from prior years as the seeds may be too old to germinate.

More Information on a Seed Pack.
  • Time to Plant by Region
  • Seed Sowing Depth
  • Distance Between Rows
  • Plant Indoors and Transplant, or Plant Directly in the Ground
  • Soil Drainage Needs, Soil Depth Needs
  • Year the Seed was Grown, and or Year Grown For. Most seeds have a four year shelf life, for onions it’s two.
  • But Not Always if a plant is full sun
  • Organic seed is seed that was taken from an organically grown plant.

So now that you have read your packages, found the right spot to plant the seeds, go out and have some fun digging in the dirt.


Our Neck of the Woods said...

Those old seed boxes are so neat! Thank you for explaining all the information on the seed packets because sometimes I do wonder what it all means! I'll have to pay closer attention to my seed packets this year.

Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog. Always happy to meet a fellow chicken lover :)


Windmill Farm said...

Thank you for visiting my blog Tammy. I really enjoy your blog very much.